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Events and Twitter: Ten Questions to Ask

June 15, 2009

The article The Ten Ways That Twitter Will Permanently Change American Business seems a bit presumptive given that many people reading the headline may not really understand Twitter, have not engaged in the discussion whether “to twitter” or “to tweet” is the proper verb form, and really don’t care how long it took Ashton Kutcher to reach a million followers. So I won’t be as bold or presumptive as I don’t have the answers but I’m pretty good at the questions.

1. Do you believe? Or can you at least pretend that you believe? Twitter just doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re just going through the motions for whatever reason, don’t bother. You have to actively participate to learn how to best use Twitter for your events.

2. Do you expect someone to tell you how to use to Twitter? Don’t. Listen, start to participate in the conversation, and use some the Twitter applications such as TweetDeck and http://search.twitter.com. You’ll discover your own way.

3. Do you know how to listen? I mean really listen. Twitter won’t work if you try to turn it into a blatant marketing channel. You have to start by actively listening.

4. Are you a control freak? If you are, start to line your office walls with padded materials as twitter and the whole social media environment will lead to deep, dark, self-inflicted headaches if you need to control the flow.

5. Can you learn to communicate effectively in 140 characters or less? I’ll give you a hint . . . the correct answer is “yes”.

6. Will you have the resources? Mmmm . . . tough one. Twitter is very resource intensive. Review #1 “Do you believe?”.

7. How will you react when someone says something bad about your event? All customer satisfaction research says that reacting to negative comments is the best way to handle them. Just remember that the conversation will be happening with or without you.

8. How will you handle free delivery of your paid conference content? Via twitter conferees will broadcast your paid conference sessions for free to the world. There may even be live bloggers providing more in-depth content and analysis. And what will you do what someone holds up a mobile device in the back of a conference session to livestream a session?

9. What is your voice? What do you have to say via Twitter? Are you speaking for yourself or your event? Are you trying to participate in a broader industry conversation? Whatever you choose just make sure that it’s not blatantly commercial.

10. Would you be willing to pay for Twitter? You most likely won’t have to, but does it create enough value that you would pay? How much?

What do you think? What else would you ask?

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Integrated Media: A New Twist

June 1, 2009

When I hear the term “Integrated Media”, I think about combining various print, online, and face-to-face media products into an integrated package. It’s a term that probably came into existence when publishers began to feel the first signs of the declining long-term trend several years ago and they became creative in packaging together (mainly print) products into a package.

Chris Brogan in his blog post, Thoughts on Nowhere and Nowhen, led me to think about a different version of Integrated Marketing. He writes about synchronous and asynchronous communications. Even though there seems to be a movement towards live, lifestreaming communications, not everyone nor everythings needs to be shared that way.

He describes the first web as the brochure web which gave rise to the second web, the two-way web and poses the question, “What if the third web is about the relationship of things and places between the physical world and the placeless, timeless world?” An interesting perspective especially for those pondering the future of b2b media. And what if instead of defining Integrated Marketing from a publisher-centric product perspective, you defined it from s customer-perspective as to where and when they want and need to get their information and where and when iti makes sense for synchronous and asynchronous to come together?

I’m not proposing an answer, but I am pointing to a perspective that could dramatically alter the way by which we view the future. More to come on this one.

Twitter @Events I

April 23, 2009

I’m doing a bit of a fast forward in writing about using twitter at events.  I thought that I’d have several more posts setting the social media framework before getting here but something must have inspired me.  So let me take my first shot at discussing the use of twitter tied to trade shows, conferences, and other events.

The traditional, knee-jerk, old school event management reaction to Twitter is most likely, “Great,  a new, inexpensive marketing channel that I can use to replace traditional, expensive marketing.”  If you had this thought, please  go directly to the corner and a mandatory five minute time-out.  Come on.  Go.  Corner.  If you’re sitting in the corner right now and feeling pretty silly about yourself,  it’s because you haven’t been paying attention to the lesson about what social media is.  Where traditional marketing is a one-way broadcast in which you do all the talking, social media is a conversation in which you should do more listening than talking.    

Before even considering using Twitter with an event, you should first just use Twitter.  Sign up, follow, develop a following, spend your time watching and listening to the conversation not only so you learn the etiquette and the tools, but more importantly that you understand the sharing and collaborative nature of social media and Twitter.

The next step is to a find an event, any event, it could be trade show, conference, webinar, where there is a Twitter “backchannel” (fancy word, eh?).  Typically someone will have established a hashtag (i.e., #showname).  Watch the conversation and if you have something to say, say it.  For a traditional trade show you’ll see comments ranging from “I hate trade shows” to insightful comments about new products being introduced.  For a conference or webinar, you’ll most likely see a healthy discussion about the session or keynote topic, maybe links to live video, and/or note taking and thought sharing in 140 character chunks.  You’ll be amazed with the richness of the discussion.

Social Media Strategy II

April 16, 2009

So here’s my attempt to combine the various strategic approaches into one that makes sense to me.  Most likely I will come back to review and edit this several times.  But for the time being here’s the best that I can do:

  1. Learn.  Understand what social media is.  Understand what social media isn’t.  Understand how, when, and where social media fits with the rest of your business.
  2. Listen.  Determine where the conversations are taking place.  How does your audience use social media?  Flickr, YouTube, Scribd, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn.  As much as possible set up automatic feeds to aggregate content/conversations. Social Media Monitoring Tools: 26 Free Online Reputation Tools provides a great overview of a wide range of social media listening devices.
  3. Define Your Strategy.
  4. Describe Business Value Proposition.  What is the “one thing” that is truly interesting, different, intriguing about your product?  How will you humanize your brand
  5. Define Your Objectives (e.g., SEO, PR, drive traffic, awareness, click-throughs, conversions, etc.)
  6. Prepare. Establish Game Plan.  Find the People.  Set Rules of Engagement. Develop Tactical Mix.
  7. Engage.
  8. Go Offline.
  9. Measure Success.